Quaker Universalist Voice

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A Book Review of Terry Mort,The Wrath of Cochise: The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars (2013)

This book, Terry Mort,The Wrath of Cochise: The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars (2013) is a sobering challenge to Quakers who see easy universalism all around.  This book provides an example of understanding that is hard-earned and painfully-earned.

Despite the narrative about the particular Bascom Affair of military and immigrant ignorance, duplicity, humiliation, and the historical consequences for Apaches and immigrants, the book clearly summarizes current understanding of Apache culture, language, and spirituality. For Quakers, the Bascom Affair itself and the resulting warfare are less important for history (although it is a riveting narrative) than as a reminder of the challenge for universalists. 

The author’s theme is the comparative effect of a notable leader (Cochise) and an ordinary military officer (Bascom), both limited by the scope of their cultural values and neither searching for shared universal values. This is the story of the conflict of cultures layered onto the current and future uses of land in a condition of mutual ignorance for the opposing cultural values. 

A valuable chapter for Quaker reflection is focused on the contrast in cultural values and traditions of the Chiricahua Apache culture and the Eastern West Point military officer culture and their allied immigrants.  The Apache were the Washington DC of the Chiricahua Mountains and the Border Patrol, while the immigrants were the immigrants.

The experience of Apache and European immigrants provide a lesson and unfortunate model for replication.   For Apaches, it was a life of constant conquest, aggression, and revenge embedded in a code.  This strengthens the distinction between us and others, everyone else.  Peaceful occupations were repudiated.  By contrast, the experience of a life of settled internal amity in community generates a code imbedding the values of justice, honesty, veracity and regard for the claims of others in harmonious cooperation.  This reality permitted the resulting warriors on both sides to be effective in war and also cooperative members of an affectionate extended family at home. It was a sort of a double life, like that of U.S. soldiers’ experience of Vietnam, Iraq, Syria etc. and Japanese soldiers following the events in Nanking before World War II.

The moral of the story is the mutual benefit of cultural knowledge of opponents and the mortal consequences of cultural ignorance.


There is no reference to Quakers in the book.


  • How do Quakers effectively approach self-education when encountering people of a different cultural background?
  • Which Quaker testimonies are most engaged in encountering people of a different cultural background?
  • Which are the particular subjects in which Quakers need be particularly vigilant, because Quakers are particularly ignorant or disabled in engaging people of different cultural traditions?



Terry Mort, The Wrath of Cochise: The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars (2013)

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